In my newsletter article last month – Keep on Truckin’ – I wrote about resilience for the long-haul and boy does it look like we’re going to need it. The wider economic impact of Covid-19 has barely hit us yet. The social impact is starting to bite again. Winter is on its way and there is no sign of a vaccine any time soon. It would be easy to fall into despair.
And yet, as leaders, you’re expected to battle on no matter what, hold your head up high, come up with the vision and strategy that will ensure your business survives and maintain your team’s focus, motivation and performance (in addition to your own).
So, challenging as it is, what else can you do to dig deep and continue to function optimally despite everything going on around you?
Revisit Effective Coping Strategies
One great thing to do is to revisit old coping strategies.
At the start of lockdown, I stopped watching the news on TV and I stopped reading newspapers. I found it all too depressing. In the last couple of months, however, I’ve started reading the papers again. Perhaps it’s time to stop?
Back in March/April I was having lots of ‘gin o clocks’ with my friends. So many, in fact, that I had to convert them to tonic o clocks! I’m a classic extrovert and I’m at my best when I’m chatting to friends and socialising. As we’ve been having more physical get-togethers, I’ve been doing less virtual ones, but with statistics on the rise again, maybe it’s something I need to reinstate.
I was working with a client last week who told me she had got into “bad habits” – getting up late, not showering or washing her hair in the morning and wearing PJs all day. She knew it was bad for her mental health. She knew she needed more structure and routine in her day, but she just hadn’t been making it happen.
We often know what strategies work for us, but for some reason, they fall by the wayside. And it’s only when we start to feel low again that we realise something isn’t working.
Action: What strategies did you instigate during the early days of lockdown and have you stuck with them or are there things you need to reinstate?
Take a Break
Many leaders I know haven’t had a holiday this year. They’ve been too frantic trying to save their businesses, pivot their strategies, bring in desperately needed sales and so on. They tell me it feels wrong to take a holiday when times are so challenging and their people are working so hard.
However, even the most resilient people need a proper break.
No matter how well you feel you have coped with the pandemic, it has put a huge amount of stress on all of us, even if that has been at a sub-conscious level. A number of my newer clients have experienced panic attacks for the first time in their lives and have been surprised by them. It’s called sub-conscious stress.
Long-term stress in your nervous system is hugely damaging in many ways and will undoubtedly impact your ability to think straight, let alone laterally; your relationships as your tolerance levels sink ever lower, and your energy. Running on empty is of no value to you, your colleagues or your business.
Action: So, book at least a week’s holiday in your calendar right now. A week where you switch off from all digital devices, e-mails, social media etc. It might be a staycation in the rain due to travel restrictions but any proper break is better than none!
I will have written about this many times before and I make no apologies for it. Every piece of research you read about resilience puts hope as the foundation-stone.
Dr Martin Seligmann, the founder of positive psychology, calls it ‘pragmatic optimism.’ It’s the ability to cut through all the noise, to know that the current situation is temporary, to be aware that, no matter how bad things are, there are still good things going on and things to be grateful for. And to know that, whatever is happening, it is not your fault. There are much bigger things in play over which you have absolutely no control.
Action: A really good strategy is to think about What Went Well (WWW) at the end of each day or each week and to write those things down. It helps to re-focus your attention on the positives rather than the negatives and, as I always say, where your mind goes, your energy flows!
Leading through this pandemic is extremely tough. However, making sure you use your most effective coping strategies, taking a well-earned break and maintaining hope are just 3 fundamental ways you can bolster your resilience. The most valuable asset you have in these troubled and troubling times.